Happy bellies love yogurt. The active cultures and probiotics help to keep the good bacteria thriving in our intestinal tract. But did you know that making your own can not only be simple, but extremely cost effective? Especially since most of it happens while you SLEEP!
Let me show you how.
My sweet hubby got me an electric pressure cooker for Christmas. One of the features is that it's a yogurt maker. Of course, I was intrigued, not to mention several of my friends mentioning they had one and loved their homemade yogurt! I couldn't wait to try it!
After just a little research to find a recipe I wanted to try as well as a few simple tips and tricks for a fail-proof batch, I set out and whipped up some amazing greek yogurt. My kids blasted through it in about a week, so I decided to make it again. This time, with photos! I usually start this process at about 8:30 p.m.
Start with 1 gallon of organic whole milk and 1 container (5.3 oz) of organic plain Greek yogurt. These are the ones I used. Total cost: $7.67. Leave the Greek yogurt out on your counter during Step 2 so that it has time to get to room temperature.
Grab a few things to finish the process: A thermometer, silicone whisk, and a small bowl. (Tomorrow, you'll need a colander lined with coffee filters and a bowl.)
Scald the milk. First, you take the removable pot and make sure it is nice and clean. I add about 5-6 ice cubes to it and swirl them around for just a minute to chill the pot. (I don't know why, but it was suggested by another yogurt maker, so I did it.) You pour the ice and water out, but don't worry about drying the pot again.
Pour your organic whole milk in. On my pressure cooker, I turn it on Slow Cook and heat the milk to 180 degrees. This takes about 1 hour, so I set my timer for about 50-55 minutes and get my thermometer ready. If you stir the milk (which is a good idea to prevent hot spots when you take the temperature, be sure NOT to scrape the bottom. I'll show you why in a minute.
Cool the scalded milk to 110 degrees. Once your milk has reached temperature, you can remove the pot and let it sit out to cool. I like to expedite this process by putting it into a bowl of ice water. It takes about 8-10 minutes to reduce the temp to 110. I use a silicone whisk to gently stir, being sure NOT to scrape the bottom. Make sure you don't go below 90 degrees, otherwise I can't promise you'll end up with a good end result.
Temper your Greek yogurt. I empty my container of it into a small bowl and take about a cup of the hot milk and whisk it together. You'll have a smooth, creamy yogurt mixture that you pour back to the hot milk.
Put the lid on and set the plug to Steam (this is not fully closed like you'd use if you were pressure cooking something.) We press Yogurt and the default time is 8 hours. I like to press the + button a few more times to get it up to 10 hours. The longer you go, the more tart your yogurt will be. This is my personal preference, but you can adjust accordingly. If you keep it low, 8 hours is minimum. I did see where some have gone as long as 24 hours, but I can't even imagine how tart that would be! Maybe I'll try it some day just to see. LOL
After you have it set, you press Start and go to bed. (Sleep well!)
It's morning and our yogurt is almost done. I like a thick Greek yogurt, so I prepare my colander to strain the whey out. Here you can see I've lined it with coffee filters. I have a ramekin upside down in the bowl below to hold the colander up as the bowl catches the whey. TIP: get the coffee filters wet with water to arrange them the way you like. Makes it much easier when you pour your yogurt into the bowl.
The timer went off and our yogurt is done! Check out how thick and yummy that looks! It's pretty satisfying to see the finished result when the lid comes off. But, we aren't quite done yet UNLESS you like a thinner yogurt. If so, feel free to bottle it up and be on your way. If you like a thicker Greek yogurt like I do, then you'll gently pour this into your colander to strain.
Here is what a gallon of yogurt looks like in the colander. That's a lot, right?? Don't worry, you'll strain it to your personal preference. For me, I set my timer for 2.5 hours. I checked it after about an hour and a half and poured the whey into my first quart jar and filled it. I used a scraper to move the yogurt around a little to get the whey to the edge that had pooled in the center. I covered it with plastic wrap and left it for another hour.
Remember when I said not to scrape the bottom? Here's why. There is a layer of milk left behind from the scalding. You don't want that to mix in with your finished yogurt otherwise you'll have lumps and in some cases a grainy texture. The first time I made yogurt, this actually slid out when I poured it into the colander to strain and I was easily able to pick it out.
Here is our finished yogurt (before add-ins) after straining it for 2.5 hours. See how thick it is? At this point, you can bottle it up as plain Greek yogurt. You can use it as sour cream, too.
So that I don't have to buy another yogurt for my next batch, I pulled out a half pint jar of it for next time.
Add Ins! I love me some add ins. 🙂 In this batch, I added 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 1/2 cup of local, raw honey. Note that for ease of mixing, it's best to warm your honey so that you don't have a giant glob of it in your yogurt.
After it's all mixed up, I bottle it up and end up with 2 full quarts and part of another. This yogurt isn't terribly sweet, which is how I like it. But it's not "plain" either. My favorite way to eat it is to add granola and blueberries to a dish of it. Yum!
Others have suggested adding protein powder for an added bit of protein. I'll probably do that when I add it to my breakfast smoothies.
Use your imagination in how you like to prepare yours. You can add jam or jelly like the "fruit in the bottom" types. You can bottle it up in individual serving sizes (smaller jars). You can add all sorts of fruit.
Bottle up your creation and enjoy! The yogurt will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Mine never lasts that long. We use it for breakfast parfaits, smoothies, and I'm even contemplating a frozen yogurt treat with it at some point. There are lots of options.
But wait, what about that extra whey?? You can still use it! You can water your plants with it or use it in place of buttermilk in your recipes. I have a yummy bran muffin recipe that I never make because I always forget to buy buttermilk. Now, I won't have any excuse and actually hope to make a large batch of them for freezing! They make a great after-school snack for the kids!
I'm currently researching more ways to use my whey. It will keep for up to 6 months in your fridge!!
If you decide to make your own yogurt, come tell us about it in the Clubhouse!